Electronics: Auto Industry Prepares for Intelligent Highway

Electronics: Auto Industry Prepares for Intelligent Highway

May 27, 2008
Spotlight Story:
Auto Industry Prepares for
Intelligent Highway

Drag racing vehicles, some of which gulp gasoline at the rate of a gallon per sec, are using electronic data loggers to cut hundredths of a sec from their quarter-mile times. Full Story
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In the News:
Phoenix Mars Lander Probes for Signs of Life The Phoenix Mars Lander landed Sunday night with solar panels and a camera deploying as planned. First photos show a landscape that looks like a red paved parking lot. Full Story
LEDs Moving in on CFLs in General Lighting Lighting solutions provider Luminus will soon announce a general lighting strategy for LEDs in street lamps and industrial and home lighting. But work still remains to lower costs. Full Story
Suppliers Bring Data Logging to Drag Racing Sensors, microcontrollers and flash memories are enabling drag racers to electronically store vehicle performance. Full Story
Medical's 'Mini' Revolution
Increasingly, the world of medicine is taking the "minimalist" route, developing technologies designed to sharply reduce patient discomfort and trauma in applications ranging from diagnostics to surgery. Read More
Gadget Freak Case #120: Super-Powered Salad Spinner
Say goodbye to your ordinary salad spinner. Rick Crammond's will have your greens dry as a bone faster than you can say cucumber. Full Story
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Mars: The Search for Water, the Search for Life - VIDEO This clip looks at images of Mars and compares them to similar features found on Earth and addresses possible consequences of finding liquid water on Mars. Watch Now

- PODCASTTim Gasparrini of Lockheed Martin describes the mechanical engineering challenges of building a Lander that will function on the Martian North Pole from May to November.
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Sponsored Technology Content
Light Matters: Energy Efficiency In partnership with Avnet
Even though high-brightness LEDs (HBLEDs) are rapidly advancing in terms of energy efficiency, heat remains the nemesis of most HBLED illumination systems. Heat is primarily generated by non-radiative recombinations of electrons and holes in the HBLED semiconductor material. Read More

Hysteresis Blocks Magic In partnership with Analog Devices
Can I recalibrate my precision analog circuits to achieve higher accuracy? There is no magic process for upgrading the precision of analog circuitry. A phenomenon know as hysteresis limits just how repeatable it can be. Read More


Engineering Concept Conduit In partnership with Digi-Key
Welcome to Engineering Concept Conduit, this site takes a look at the engineering challenges your peers faced and examines the components that solved those challenges. Find out how this translates to a concept you can implement immediately. Our first video features the functionality of the Omnimouse. Read More


Webcast: Mechatronics in the Age of Digital Images In partnership with Bosch Rexroth, National Instruments and Siemens PLM
Avid photographers talk about image focus, shutter speed and depth of field, but rarely do they talk about image sensors, gyroscopes, actuators and ultrasonic motors. But the digital camera is truly a mechatronics marvel. Kevin Craig's three-part webcast takes you through the basics of photography through the birth of the digital age to explain how mechatronics is revolutionizing the digital camera. Read More


AeroTEST America 2008 In partnership with AeroTEST America
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
17, 18, 19, 20 November 2008 Read More


Webcast: Supercharge products with Embedded RFID In partnership with Skyetek
Join SkyeTek for a complimentary webcast to learn how RFID is transforming every-day products into intelligent devices - adding increased functionality and driving incremental revenue. The live event will take place May 1st at 8:00 AM PDT | 11:00 AM EDT. Read More
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Avnet Avnet, Inc. is one of the world's largest value-added distributors of semiconductors, connectors, passive and electromechanical components and RF & microwave devices; enterprise networking and computer equipment and embedded subsystems from leading manufacturers. Serving customers in 70 countries, Avnet markets, inventories and adds value to these products. View All Resources from Avnet

Wireless Temperature Sensing Tackles Tough Industrial Applications Vendor:Banner Engineering | Type: White Paper Wireless sensing has many benefits for industrial applications, but in the past, the problems have outnumbered the benefits limiting its use. Recent technology advances have made wireless sensing practical for many industrial applications. One answer is Banner Engineering's Sure Cross wireless technology.


Sensorless Field Oriented (FOC) Control for AC Induction Motors Vendor:Microchip Technology Inc. | Type: Web Event The requirement of low-cost, low-maintenance, robust electrical motors have resulted in the emergence of the AC Induction Motor (ACIM) as the industry leader. Learn how to apply sensorless field-oriented control of induction motors using a dsPIC(R) Digital Signal Controller (DSC) from Microchip Technology.
View All Electronics/Test Resources

Auto Industry Prepares for Intelligent Highway
Phoenix Mars Lander Probes for Signs of Life
LEDs Moving in on CFLs in General Lighting
Suppliers Bring Data Logging to Drag Racing
Medical's 'Mini' Revolution
Gadget Freak Case #120: Super-Powered Salad Spinner

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Chuck Murray,
Senior Technical Editor

What do you think the Phoenix Mars Lander will find? Email me with your thoughts.


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The Phoenix Lander Begins Amazing Engineering Investigation

The Phoenix Lander Begins Amazing Engineering Investigation

The Mars Phoenix Lander has now gone where two predecessors failed to go. The Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft crashed into the Red Planet in 1999 because of a navigation error when “English” and metric units were confused. The Mars Polar Lander (MPL), was lost near the planet’s South Pole not long after that. As we reported here, the Mars. Phoenix Lander uses technology from the MPL, cutting its cost dramatically. The Phoenix landed Sunday night, with solar panels and a camera deploying just as planned. The first photos show a landscape that looks like a red paved parking lot.

We’re learning already. There is a close-up view of polygon-shaped formations (previously seen from space). Expansion and contraction of ice are believed to cause the shapes, something like the cracks that form in asphalt driveways over the winter. And that’s a great sign because it means the Lander may be close to ice crystals that may hold the clues to previous life. Next step: The specially developed shovel begins digging—chopping soil that can be tested in the on-board labs.

Wow.

Hear Principal Investigator Peter Smith and Engineer Tim Gasparrini describe the mission in Design News podcasts.

Can Global Warming Sell More Than Candy?

Can Global Warming Sell More Than Candy?

My fellow blogger, John Dodge put up an excellent post criticizing the trend among companies to jump on the renewable/sustainable bandwagon by promoting technologies and products with dubiously eco-friendly names, “Bluetech, Clean Tech, other green variants sound like Bull Tech”.

In the same vein, the Reese’s division of Hershey’s candy company has been running a commercial spot that implores viewers to “Stop Global Warming Now… Or All the Reese’s will Melt.” Is the company trying to cash in by exploiting our growing environmental consciousness to sell candy? Or are they poking fun at America’s frenzied desire to go green by any means possible, even when the underlying motivations are asinine?

Reactions to this advertisement from industry insiders indicate the later: Reese’s is poking fun at armchair environmentalists. For example, Eleftheria Parpis of Adweek writes “Global warming isn’t funny, but I just couldn’t help but laugh out loud at this new 15-second Reese’s spot from Arnold that, um, puts the crises in proper perspective.”

Nonetheless, if Reese’s can leverage global warming to sell peanut butter cups, when will companies whose products become more desirable if temperatures rise begin to use a similar advertisement strategy? With potentially hotter summers, will Carrier use this scheme to sell air conditioner units? Will Century 21 start pushing real estate investments in Canada and Alaska on speculation of a big thaw?

Apparently at least one blog reader is already eager to buy land up north (see “Canada Cashing in on the Melting Northwest Passage”), and the advertisements have not yet even started.

Cool USB flash drives

USB flash drives have become a true fashion accessory. This YouTube video shows a variety of fancy USB drives, including drives that look like jewelry, hot dogs, hamburgers, doughnuts, even wine bottles.

History of the video game

History of the video game

Many video gamsters point to the Odyssey as the first real video game console. Magnavox released the Odyessy in May of 1972, 36 years ago this month. Here’s a video that shows the history of video consoles, beginning with the Odyssey and moving through Atari, Nintendo and Sony.

Old PCs may fuel your car

Old PCs may fuel your car

According to an article in India’s The Economic Times, a team or Romanian and Turk researchers say they have devised a way to turn discarded computers into environmentally friendly consumer products, even auto fuel.

The researchers say they have created a recycling technique that takes old computer circuit boards and removes toxic materials. Their process then turns the boards into oils that could be safely used as fuel. The materials, called feedstocks, can also be used for a wide range of consumer products. Researchers note that the biggest obstacle to commercializing the process is ramping up the scale.

Resource Center E-Alert: Free Information, Made Easy

Resource Center E-Alert: Free Information, Made Easy

May 22, 2008
Design News' Resource Center e-Alert provides design engineers fast and convenient access to the latest information - data sheets, design guides, CAD files, application notes, instruction manuals, reference designs and white papers - on technologies and products available on manufacturer sites.
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AutomationDirect AutomationDirect is a direct seller of automation and industrial control products such as PLCs, sensors, pushbuttons, AC drives/motors, enclosures, operator interfaces, and much more. AutomationDirect offers a free 1,900+ page catalog and full-featured web site for your viewing experience. View All Resources from AutomationDirect
Terminator I/O Selection Guide Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Design Guide Terminator I/O combines all the features of terminal blocks and I/O modules into one convenient package. This guide outlines the key things to consider and provides detailed spec's.

Specifying a terminal block system Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Design Guide Terminal block systems utilize quality materials, self-locking clamps, high contact pressure, low voltage drop and gas-tight connections. This guide outlines the key things to consider and provides detailed spec's.


How to choose a general purpose motor vs. an inverter-duty motor Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Design Guide General purpose motors have been around for many years. They are the workhorse of almost every industry. This guide outlines the key things to consider and provides detailed spec's.

Learn.automationdirect.com Online Tutorials - Operator Interface Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Product Brief These quick tutorials review the fundamentals and provide tips and tricks you can use today. Sessions include a review of C-More, with parts on setup, editing multiple objects, set language and more.


Learn.automationdirect.com Online Tutorials - Motor Controls Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Training Guide These quick tutorials review the fundamentals and provide tips and tricks you can use today. Sessions include "Building a Combination Manual Motor Starter" with parts on selecting components, the starter assembly and wiring.
Learn.automationdirect.com Online Tutorials - Sensors Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Training Guide These quick tutorials review the fundamentals and provide tips and tricks you can use today. Sessions include a review of capacitive and ultrasonic sensors, proximity and photoelectric sensors, accessories and wiring and more.


Dataforth's Signal Conditioning Tutorial Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Training Guide The need to measure and control the operation of machinery or process equipment is as old as the Industrial Revolution. Plant instrumentation has now become the nerves and brain of the modern manufacturing plant. This tutorial outlines industrial measurement environment, sensors, loops and analog signals, signal integrity, design examples provides a product selection guide.

Troubleshooting Guides Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Training Guide Access a wealth of wiring diagrams for PLC Hardware, Software Products, Operator Interface, Motor Controls and more.


Cable Wiring Diagrams Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Training Guide Access a wealth of wiring diagrams for PLC Hardware, Operator Interface, Connection Systems, Sensors, Drives, and Communication Products.


Application Story Center Vendor:AutomationDirect | Type: Case Study Access application case studies on PLC, PC-Based Control, Operator Interface, Motor Control as well as other products like Sensors and Connection Systems. Or, submit your own. If your stories are developed into full-length feature articles for publication in trade magazines, you could be paid $500.
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Engineering for Disaster - Resources

Hurricane Katrina Recovery Information
USA.gov offers assistance post-Katrina and outlines what the government is doing to come to New Orleans' aid. Read More

National Hurricane Center
Green regulations have produced waves of industry confusion, and Design News Contributing Editor Rob Spiegel doesn't expect things to clear up quickly. Visit his blog to discuss RoHS and other environmental issues. Read More

ReliefWeb
Visit this global hub for time-critical humanitarian information on emergencies and natural disasters. Read More

Engineer For Disaster


Technology is crucial to not only surviving a hurricane like Katrina, but also to quickly returning to a normal life post-storm. New materials create stronger homes. Wireless keeps us in touch with rescuers. And levees, flood gates and massive pumps can keep homes dry.
One thing we can count on is there will be more Katrinas. Our features, podcasts and photos provide an inside look at what technologies worked during and after the hurricane.

PTC Announce CoCreate 2008

PTC Announce CoCreate 2008

PTC launched the first new release of its CoCreate 3-D CAD tool since it acquired the company last December. The new CoCreate 2008 keys in on new productivity enhancements and faster editing capabilities to help companies more efficiently battle shrinking design cycles and the need to develop one-off products.

Prior to the PTC acquisition, CoCreate made its mark as one of the handful of explicit 3-D modeling tools that promise greater flexibility than traditional parametric programs since they are unencumbered by the constraints of a history tree.

Highlights of CoCreate 2008 include:

–Revised pattern capabilities, allowing users to create patterns faster along with providing options for irregular patterns.

–Flexible work-in-progress capabilities, which save daily work and what-if scenarios, even with multiple revisions of locked parts and assemblies loaded into a session.

–New shaded and rendered drawing views for communicating 3-D designs in 2D.

–Enhanced surface editing capabilities and faster cross-sectional modification for reducing repetitive steps when modifying components with cylindrical geometry.

In related news, PTC announced the winners of its 2008 explicit design competition, where 118 companies from around the world submitted more than 170 entries. Liebherr Hausgerate Lienz GmbH was named as winner for the best overall design for its ice cream display and storage unit.